Grupo Planeta sole bidder for TV channel

License due July 27; Colombian channel to launch in 2011

MEXICO CITY -- Spanish media company Grupo Planeta is sitting pretty as the sole bidder for Colombia's third private television channel.

Colombia's National Television Commission said late Wednesday that it expects to award the long-awaited broadcast license on July 27. Should it win the auction, Grupo Planeta's Canal 3 Television Colombia will compete for a slice of the advertising pie against powerhouses RCN TV and Caracol TV.

The process began back in 2008 but it has suffered several setbacks due to technical and economic concerns from potential bidders. Among the interested parties were Spain's Grupo Prisa and Venezuelan media magnate Gustavo Cisneros, yet both decided to back out of the final auction, citing "a lack of guarantees."

The new national channel is slated to hit the airwaves in January.

In addition to opening the broadcast TV market to more competition, in recent years Colombia has established itself as a key Latin American production hub. Fox International Channels and NBC Universal's Telemundo each produce hundreds of hours of scripted content out of Colombia and Sony Pictures Television recently announced that it is co-producing its first telenovela in Colombia with MTV.
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